This DIY T-shirt painting process is one of those projects that just can’t go wrong. DIY stencils made from freezer paper create the perfect silhouette for little fingerprints to fill with color!
Supplies for painted shirts….
You’ll need some freezer paper to make your own custom stencil. I’m talking from the grocery store aisle that houses Ziploc bags and foil- that kind of freezer paper.
This stencil process is perfect for making custom painted t-shirts. Think outside of the box here. This stencil process doesn’t need to be done on a plain white t-shirt- colors work great! This process could also make super sweet personalized pillow cases or tote bags!
Creating your freezer paper stencil….
This portion of the t-shirt painting requires a little parental back prep work. Basically, you want to cut out a simple silhouette out of the freezer paper. I’ve included a set of six simple silhouettes sized perfectly to print and transfer to freezer paper. In my download you’ll find silhouettes of a llama, shark, a lizard, a heart, a butterfly, and a rainbow.
Why stop there? Let your little person freehand a shape and use that! These provided graphics are just an easy route to a quick start!
Want to grab my six pack of printable silhouettes …
These silhouettes exist in my Resource Library in PDF form for you to print and use. Use the form below to become a Kitchen Table Classroom subscriber. Then check your email and confirm that you meant to subscribe. Upon confirming you’ll receive a subscriber only password. Use that to log into the Resource Library and download away.
You’ll also receive weekly newsletters from me with my newest artsy ideas and printable resources!
Already a Kitchen Table Classroom subscriber….
If you’re already a Kitchen Table Classroom subscriber there’s no need to subscribe again just to grab these templates. Just use your subscriber password to login and start downloading! Forgot your password? No worries- it’s at the bottom of every newsletter I send!
Preparing your DIY stencil….
Trace whatever shape you’d like to use onto the freezer paper. Freezer paper has a shiny side and a duller side. It’s easier to trace onto the duller side.
Use an X-Acto blade to cut the shape out of freezer paper. Leave plenty of “extra” paper around the edges. This extra paper will get ironed right into the shirt and serve to keep it free and clear of wandering painted fingerprints. It’s super helpful to have surrounding material covered- don’t cut it off!
Obviously, you should use your own judgement as to if your kiddos can take part in this cutting process. If your little artists are preschoolers consider this portion of the project as prep work for you. Don’t worry they’ll get to take part in the fun of the next step!
Are you a visual learner…
Watch the video below for a step by step walkthrough of how to make your own painted t-shirt with these easy freezer stencils!
Iron on your DIY stencil…
Turn your iron onto medium high heat. Let your kiddo take part in this process, with your supervision. Place your homemade stencil on the shirt wherever you’d like it. You want the shiny plastic-y side to be facing down, onto the fabric.
Slide the iron slowly over the freezer paper and watch the stencil adhere to the shirt. My kids thought this part was pretty cool to see. It will also help kids understand the process of why they are painting inside of the stencil and how the stencil helps create the finished painted shape.
Get ready to paint your own shirt…
The beauty of this painting project is that no matter how little your artist might be- they can do this! Because there was a little parent/teacher prep work at the beginning they can now freely create and end up with a pretty cool painted shirt that they will be so excited to wear.
We used plain craft acrylic paints to paint our t-shirts. This paint is inexpensive and comes in great colors. It won’t wash out of clothing which makes it perfect for these DIY shirts. It also means it will permanently stain other clothes- so use your best judgement.
There is fabric paint made specifically made for projects like this. It does dry slightly softer to the touch but the difference, in my opinion, is negligible. Use what you have!
Provide your little person with a choice of a few colors of paint in small amounts on a plate. Demonstrate dipping their finger in the paint and then printing right onto the t-shirt, within the stencil. The beauty of this project is it doesn’t matter if they neatly print their fingerprints, smear it, swirl it, etc. Let your little artists have at it. The DIY stencil will protect the surrounding areas.
If your kiddo has sensory issues or just doesn’t love diving into the paint with fingers feel free to substitute a round sponge brush like this one to make the project less stressful and more fun!
Fill the stencil with color, either with fingerprints or a brush. Set aside overnight or at least for a few hours to dry before removing the stencil!
Revealing your DIY T-shirt…
When the painting fun is over kids LOVE wearing their own artwork. Carefully peel away the stencil paper revealing the silhouette underneath. Let kids do this step. It doesn’t matter if the freezer paper stencil comes off in one piece or twenty- it’ll peel away easily!
Take a warm iron to your t-shirt and press the design to set it. Boom- you’re done. Your little person can wash and wear their DIY t-shirt with no further special care!